Discover Berwick, Nova Scotia: A Blend of History and Charm

Berwick, a quaint town nestled in Kings County, Nova Scotia, Canada, is a hidden gem in the eastern part of the Annapolis Valley. Situated on the Cornwallis River, the town stretches south from the river and Exit 15 of Highway 101 to Highway 1. Berwick spans 6.80 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and sits 43 m (141 ft) above sea level.

The Rich History of Berwick, Nova Scotia

Berwick's history is as rich as its landscape. The headwaters of the Cornwallis River, Berwick was initially used by Nova Scotia's Mi'kmaq people and later Acadians as a crossing place between the Cornwallis and the Annapolis River. The Berwick area was granted to several New England Planter families in 1760, but it wasn't until 1810 that the community was settled by Benjamin Congdon. The town was known progressively as the "Congdon Settlement", "Curry's Corner", and "Davison's Corner" before residents decided in 1851 to name it Berwick after the English town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Berwick became a station on the Windsor and Annapolis Railway in 1869, transforming the town and creating a large export market for apples. The railway, which became known as the Dominion Atlantic Railway in 1894, attracted warehouses and spin-off industries to Berwick. Berwick was incorporated as a town on May 25, 1923, and built its own hydroelectric power dam in 1921, which is still owned and operated by the town.

Demographics of Berwick, Nova Scotia

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Berwick had a population of 2,455 living in 1,044 of its 1,080 total private dwellings, a change of -2.2% from its 2016 population of 2,509. With a land area of 6.53 km2 (2.52 sq mi), it had a population density of 376.0/km2 (973.7/sq mi) in 2021.

Architectural Heritage of Berwick, Nova Scotia

Berwick's prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th century, driven by the apple industry, left the town with many fine homes and classic wooden Victorian storefronts. Despite the demolition of many historic commercial buildings on Berwick's main thoroughfare of Commercial Street, the town still retains many fine Victorian and Edwardian houses on tree-lined streets. A large new fire hall was constructed in 2008 for the Berwick Volunteer Fire Department, and in 2009, construction plans were announced for a large new arena, recreation, and community centre nicknamed "The Apple Dome".

Literary Connections of Berwick, Nova Scotia

Berwick has been home to several notable authors. Margaret Marshall Saunders, author of the 1894 children's book, Beautiful Joe, spent most of her childhood in Berwick. Christy Ann Conlin, author of the 2002 novel Heave, grew up just outside Berwick, and critics have noted that the fictional town of "Foster" in her book was inspired by Berwick.

Present Day Berwick, Nova Scotia

Today, Berwick operates the Apple Capital Museum and a seasonal tourism bureau. A branch of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library, with public Internet access, is located in the town hall. Berwick has been home since the 1860s to a summer religious retreat operated by the United Church of Canada known as Berwick Camp, located in a picturesque grove of old-growth pines and hemlock trees at the south end of the town.